A Gambian investigative journalist who has been documenting cases of human rights violations in the country has claimed seeing disappeared journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh in state custody in 2007. The TRRC on Monday concludes its session on the media institutional hearing.
Yaya Dampha, a former reporter for the Foroyaa newspaper, told the Truth Commission on Monday that he has sighted Chief Manneh at Fatoto Police Station in July 2007. Manneh, a former reporter of The Daily Observer, has disappeared in the country on July 7, 2006.
But Dampha was not the only one who claimed seeing Manneh in state custody. A former Daily Observer reporter Pa Ousman Darboe has also told a gathering of journalists at Alliance Franco in 2007, that Chief Ebrima Manneh was arrested by NIA agents at the Observer. Both Darboe and Dampha testified at the ECOWAS Court in the case of Manneh against the Gambia Government.
The Government lost the case and was asked to pay US$100, 000 to the family of the disappeared journalist, a fine paid by the administration of President Adama Barrow.
Dampha said he was on a tour across the country with a team of researchers from the Amnesty International. The team was looking into prison conditions across the country. They would be arrested on that trip and charged for spying but the charges were later dropped.
Dampha fearing for his life would later fled the country. Dampha was an ex-soldier who turned to be a journalist. He said he has received information from insiders at State House that former president Yahya Jammeh was not happy with him.
“I was told this was not going to be an arrest. It is going to be an abduction and I could disappear,” said Dampha.
The journalist then made up his mind and left the country for Senegal. While briefly living in Senegal, he said an attempt was made by Gambian security operatives to abduct him.
He survived one attempt after which he was given protection by Senegalese intelligence officers until he left for Sweden.